The Year of the Rooster will begin on January 28, 2017.
Celebrations will begin on January 27, New Year’s Eve, and typically last around two weeks, making this the longest holiday in the Chinese calendar.
This year the festivities are set to end on February 2.
The Chinese calendar attaches different animals from the zodiac to each lunar year in a cycle of 12 years.
This year is the Year of the Rooster.
Roosters are the tenth sign in the zodiac and are seen as confident, honest and hardworking. They also enjoy being around people but can be seen as attention seekers.
But for people born in a rooster year – 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 – it is set to be an unlucky time because tradition denotes that the year of your birth makes for an unlucky 12 months.
How is Chinese New Year celebrated?
Chinese New Year is celebrated with the ringing of bells, the lighting of firecrackers and watching traditional lion dances.
In China New Year’s Eve is seen as an important date, with families gathering together for a reunion dinner. Firecrackers are then let off to signal the end of last year and the beginning of next.
On New Year’s Day, families gather, clean their houses and sweep away bad-fortune.
Red envelopes stuffed with “lucky money” are given to children, along with written wishes for their kids to grow up healthy.
However Chinese New Year has also been touched by the digital age, with red envelope apps – where people can exchange cyber money – being launched.
People also decorate their houses with red paper cutouts, banners and special New Year paintings during the festive period. This year is also likely to see Rooster themed decorations.
by Rhonda Parkinson, Chinese Food Expert
This sweet and sour pork is prepared American-style with more batter and deep-fried twice for extra crispiness.
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
- 3/4 pound pork tenderloin
- 2 – 3 teaspoons soy sauce
- Pinch of cornstarch
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup water or reserved pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 4 tablespoons water
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup warm water, as needed
- 1 carrot
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1/2 green bell pepper
- 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
- 3 cups oil for deep-frying, or as needed
- Cut the pork into 1-inch cubes. Marinate in the soy sauce and cornstarch for 20 minutes.
- To prepare the sauce, in a small bowl, combine the sugar, ketchup, dark soy sauce, salt, water or juice and vinegar. Set aside. In a separate bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Set aside.
- Peel the carrot and chop on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Cut the bell peppers in half, remove the seeds and cut into cubes.
- Heat the oil for deep–frying to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- For the batter, combine the flour and cornstarch. Stir in the egg white and vegetable oil. Add as much of the warm water as is needed to form a thick batter that is neither too dry or too moist. (The batter should not be runny, but should drop off the back of a spoon).
- Dip the marinated pork cubes in the batter. Deep-fry in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the wok. Deep-fry the pork until it is golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.
- (If desired you can deep-fry the pork at second time to make it extra crispy. Make sure the oil is back up to 375 before you begin deep-frying again).
- To prepare the sweet and sour sauce, bring the sauce ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot, green pepper, and pineapple. Bring to a boil again and thicken with cornstarch mixture, stirring. Check the sauce one more time and adjust seasonings, adding salt and/or vinegar if desired. Serve hot over the deep-fried pork.
- Serve the sweet and sour pork over rice.
Western concept of time is linear, meaning time proceeds in a straight line from past, to present, and future, while traditional China uses a 12-year-cycle for dating the years. Each Chinese year corresponds to one of 12 different animals with certain personality traits, and the animal signs (or zodiac) repeat every 12 years in the following order:
- Rat: charming, hardworking, thrifty, ambitious
- Ox: patient, alert, quiet, stubborn
- Tiger: sensitive, sympathetic, indecisive, powerful
- Rabbit: articulate, talented, kind, financially lucky
- Dragon: healthy, energetic, excitable, brave
- Snake: intense, passionate, wise, hates to fail
- Horse: popular, cheerful, perceptive, independent
- Ram: elegant, creative, shy, pessimistic
- Monkey: clever, flexible, inventive, sensible
- Rooster: busy, eccentric, deep thinker, loner
- Dog: loyal, honest, good leader, secret keeper
- Pig: chivalrous, determined, studious, problem solver
Legend has it that the 12 animals argued who would be first, so the gods called for a swimming contest. All 12 animals fathered at a river bank and jumped in, but the rat shrewdly hopped on the ox’s back. Although the ox reached the opposite shore first, the rat leaped onto land and won the race before the ox climbed out of the water.
Proper Chinese culture frowns upon asking people’s ages directly, but knowing their zodiac sign is a polite way of estimating (within 12 years) how old they are. Using common sense, one could determine that the new neighbor is 73 years old rather than 61 or 85.
Spiced fragrant honey cake is a tradition on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year, which generally falls in September).
Yield: One 10-inch cake/12 Servings
- cooking spray
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 cup honey
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup strong brewed coffee (decaf is fine)
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup whiskey
- Place an oven shelf in an upper position in oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 10-inch fluted tube pan (such as a Bundt® pan) with cooking spray.
- In a bowl, whisk together the unbleached flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the canola oil, honey, white and brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, coffee, orange juice, and whiskey. With an electric mixer, beat the flour mixture into the honey mixture just until the batter is thoroughly incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake on upper shelf in the preheated oven until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs, about 1 hour. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan before turning the cake out onto a serving platter.
If baking in a 9 x13-inch baking pan, bake for 40 minutes.
Notes: Some people drizzle with white icing and slivered almonds. The almonds are sprinkled on top prior to baking and you should let it cool in the pan for about 15 – 20 min and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely before placing it on a serving platter.